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Tips to keep kids healthy this school year

August 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
With the heat, sun and swimming pools, you'd think summer would be one of the most dangerous times of the year for kids. Some health experts beg to differ.

Medical professionals argue that being back in school is the riskiest time of year for kids because they are exposed to more germs, stressed out and not getting much exercise.

Pediatrician Dr. Danelle Fisher says the flu shot is the first fall vaccination parents should give their kids, followed by the newly required whooping cough booster for kids in grades 7-12.

What you don't want to boost is the weight of your child's backpack. Some kids tote around half their body weight when the recommendation is no more than 10 percent. Fisher says a rolling backpack is a lot safer because then the weight isn't on the child's body.

Another potential school related hazard is bullying. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed about 20 percent of high school students say they were bullied at school. Experts say a telltale sign to look for is if your kids suddenly become isolated and withdrawn.

Bullying isn't the only thing that can cause stress. School work, grades and peer pressure all impact a child's daily life. In these times, parents need to help their kids get the basics.

"First and foremost, it's taking good care of your body, sleep and exercise on a regular basis," Fisher said.

To get kids to turn in early, Fisher recommends winding them down by reading books or playing games that involve imagination.

Believe it or not, experts say kids will eat healthier if they're involved in supermarket shopping and get to help in preparing the dinner, so get them more engaged and don't give little kids too many options.

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